Skip to main content

Full text of "Men Of Mathematics"

See other formats

ning the business, which Kionecker did with great thoroughness
and financial success. To manage the landed property efficiently
he even mastered the principles of agriculture.
In 1848, at the age of twenty-five, the energetic^young busi-
ness man very prudently fell in love with his cousin, Fanny
Prausnitzer, daughter of the defunct wealthy uncle, married
her, and settled down to raise a family. They had six children,
four of whom survived their parents. Kronecker's married life
was ideally happy, and he and his wife - a gifted, pleasant
woman - brought up their children with the greatest devotion.
The death of Kronecker's wife a few months before his own last
illness was the blow which broke him.
During his eight years in business Kronecker produced no
mathematics. But that he did not stagnate mathematically is
shown by his publication in 1853 of a fundamental memoir on
the algebraic solution of equations. All through his activity as a
man of affairs Kronecker had maintained a lively scientific
correspondence with his former master, Kummer, and on
escaping from business in 1853 he visited Paris, where he made
the acquaintance of Hermite and other leading French mathe-
maticians. Thus he did not sever communications with the
scientific world when circumstances forced him into business,
but kept his soul alive by making mathematics rather than
whist, pinochle, or draughts his hobby.
In 1853, when Kronecker*s memoir on the algebraic solva-
bility of equations (the nature of the problem was discussed in
the chapters on Abel and Galois) was published, the Galois
theory of equations was understood by very few. Kronecker's
attack was characteristic of much of his finest work. Kroneeker
had mastered the Galois theory, indeed he was probably the
only mathematician of the time (the late 184(Ts) who had pene*
trated deeply into Galois' ideas; Liouville had contented him-
self with a sufficient insight into the theory to enable him to
edit some of Galois' remains intelligently.
A distinguishing feature of Kronecker's attack was its com-
prehensive thoroughness. In this, as in other investigations in
algebra and the theory of numbers, Kronecker took the refined
gold of his predecessors, toiled over it like an inspired jeweller,